Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
My name is Jen Milius, and I am so happy to be here! I am the author of the children’s book series Einstein and Moo, which is based on our family’s real-life brother and sister tuxedo kitties.
Growing up, I was the kid who would submit an essay over taking a standardized test, if allowed the option. I would journal to clear my thoughts when I needed a private sounding board (and still do), and I would write papers with a dictionary nearby to find a word I did not know, learn it, and weave it into the paper I was doing at that moment, so when I submitted my two children’s stories about Einstein and Moo for publication back in 2014, I knew it was something I had to do.
There are currently five books in the Einstein and Moo series as well as an activity book based on the first three stories.
Additionally, I am a motivational speaker and believe that each of us have something special to offer, but sometimes it takes a leap of faith to be willing to share that gift. I believe when people are doing what they love, there is a joy that they radiate. They feel empowered and that what they do adds value. These individuals are more productive, and their joy comes through in their personal lives as well as in business. It is my goal that my speaking engagements and workshops leave a positive, lasting influence that encourages people to be the best they can be.
Previously, I co-hosted Encouraging the You in Success through BlogTalkRadio. The radio show/podcast is a blend of personal development, leadership and business and intended to provide tools and ideas to encourage others to be the best they can be. Topics include employee engagement, understanding and leveraging individual strengths, trust, 5 dysfunctions of a team, changing a culture, mentoring, and servant leadership. All episodes can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/wrspradio or as a Podcast through iTunes, searching for WRSP.
I enjoy yoga, cooking, baking, listening to music, and spending time with family and friends, especially my husband, stepdaughter, and fur babies.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
First, let me tell you a little about Einstein and Moo. We adopted them in 2009 when they were about three and half months old, and they have brought our family so much joy! They are loving, sweet, and curious, but they have very different personalities. Einstein is quite talkative and will talk even more when it is close to mealtime; sometimes, he will play fetch. Moo squeaks more than meows, and she loves to hide underneath the coffee table and wave one paw at your feet, like the monster under the bed.
My latest book was inspired by my sweet girl Moo and released September 2016; it is called Moo and Her Favorite Spot. Moo is my little love lion, and she loves kneading fluffy blankets, but only second to being in my lap. She will even stand on her back paws, reach up, and squeak as if to say, “Hey, I want to get up”, then once you move to show her there is room, she hops up and situates 🙂 If she thinks there is room where she doesn’t have to ask, she just pushes herself into my lap without any hesitation. lol 🙂
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
For the Einstein and Moo series, each story starts out as pictures in my mind. Then once the idea is clear, it tends to go from concept to paper fairly quickly. There have been times that the idea has become clear when I am driving, so in those cases, I’ve pulled over and voiced the story on my phone as far as I have it and email it to myself to finish. Each story is a poem. It was a creative choice to use minimal punctuation except when there is dialogue or a specific inflection is needed, and then the appropriate punctuation is used.
As I work through a draft, I will read it out loud. It helps me to make sure I catch missing words, the flow, and capture the right inflection. For the Einstein and Moo series, it helps me to hear the tempo and rhyme.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I have loved reading since I was a child, so there are many books that in some way influenced me. I tend to think that each time we read something we formulate an opinion about the topic or feel as though we were swept away with the main characters on their adventure, we were influenced. So with that, here are just a few that have stayed with me:
The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David J. Schwartz
The Road Less Travelled by Dr. Scott Peck
Rising Strong by Dr. Brene’ Brown
Quiet by Susan Cain
Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull
Charlotte’s Web by EB White
The World of Pooh by AA Milne
And simply from an author perspective, I would say JK Rowling, Stephen King, Jeffrey Deaver, and Dan Brown.
What are you working on now?
I’m in the process of getting the sixth Einstein and Moo book through illustrations as well as writing other leadership and motivational books. Additionally, I am preparing for several upcoming events where I’ll be the guest speaker/presenter.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I love having book signings and doing speaking engagements! When I go to a book signing, I love hearing stories about the love people have for animals. When I see a child light up with a book, my heart is happy because they are excited. They can feel the love that went into creating that story.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Let me start by sharing that I see writing and speaking as my business, so I work on growing my business in some way every day. I am very motivated to see my business blossom and contribute in a positive way. I wrote a vision statement for my business early on and use it as a reminder to keep me going when I feel like I’m not making progress. It helps me to remember that this is a marathon, and what that really means to me is keep doing something everyday to get closer to where I want to be, even if it seems small.
So for advice, I would say:
• Stay true to your vision. There are many talented people, but you will know you found the right illustrator or publisher when you get that little feeling inside that lets you know this is the right step. Believe that you will find the right publisher, illustrator, and path for you.
• Silence your inner critic during the first rough draft
• Read a lot – different genres, different authors
• Be open to feedback
• Don’t give up
• You can do anything you set your mind to – tell yourself positive things and really believe what you say
• Take each door closing as moving you forward to where you are supposed to be – not as rejection
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Your mind believes what you tell it.
What are you reading now?
I have a habit of having several books going at the same time, and typically that means that one is non-fiction, to grow personally and professionally, and one is fiction. With that being said, I’m finishing Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and am in the middle of The Vegetarian by Han Kang and City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Continuing to grow and cultivate my craft. I have several non-picture book stories, both fiction and non-fiction, that are in various stages of a first draft, so perhaps one of those will evolve into a published book. 🙂
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Who booked this trip? LOL 🙂 I would bring The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David J. Schwartz because it’s one of my favorites and it would keep my spirits up; The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas for good ideas on how to leave the island; and, The World of Pooh by AA Milne because it would help my imagination not get too carried away while I focused on getting off the island. 🙂